Senate gives nod to bill to join
Interstate Medical Licensing Compact

 

Bill would give Rhode Islanders access to more physicians

 

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Bridget Valverde to expand Rhode Islanders’ access to physicians by having the state join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is an agreement between states to work together to significantly streamline the licensing process for physicians who want to practice in multiple states. It offers a voluntary, expedited pathway to licensure for qualified physicians.

The compact is intended to increase access to health care, particularly for patients in underserved or rural areas, by extending the service areas of physicians, improving patients’ access to medical specialists, and leveraging the use of new medical technologies, such as telemedicine. While making it easier for physicians to obtain licenses to practice in multiple states, the compact also strengthens public protection by enhancing states’ abilities to share investigative and disciplinary information.

Currently, 38 states have voted to join the compact, with neighboring Connecticut having voted to join earlier this month.

Under the compact, physicians who are eligible can qualify to practice medicine in multiple member states by completing just one application within the compact, receiving separate licenses from each state in which they intend to practice.

As a member state, Rhode Island would benefit by having more licensed physicians available to its residents.

“One of the many societal side effects of the pandemic is that it has become even more difficult to schedule medical appointments, particularly with specialists. However, the pandemic also pushed telemedicine to the mainstream, and it has become a useful option for many people,” said Senator Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown). “Joining this compact will give Rhode Islanders access to more doctors from other states, which will help to better balance our supply of doctors with our demand.”

Once a state joins the compact, participation by doctors in it is completely voluntary. Those who wish to practice in other states could complete a single application through the compact, and the compact would forward their information to the licensing boards in the states where they wish to be licensed. The states still handle issuing the individual licenses. In order to apply through the compact, physicians must meet stringent standards that include educational and certification requirements and a clean history in terms of disciplinary actions or criminal matters.

The legislation (2022-S 2606) now heads to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) is sponsoring its House companion bill (2022-H 8047).

The bill is supported by the Department of Health, the Rhode Island Medical Society and the American Medical Association.

 

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